By: Femi Mustapha
Local Government Accountability Mechanism (LGAM) stakeholders has commended Kaduna State Government for initiating Far-reaching planning and budgeting reforms towards improving public financial management and service delivery at the Local Government level.
This is stated in a Communique
Issued at the end of a Two-Day Stakeholders’ Reflection and Presentation of Community Development Charter (CDC) 2021 Half-Year Performance and 2022 Influence of the 23 Local Government Areas held in Zaria.
The Communique signed by Babagida Garba, Sumayya Abdullahi Hussaini, Bako Abdul Usman, and Yusuf Goje noted that the reforms have improved access to information, citizens’ engagement in the planning, and budget process, and increased public awareness on governance processes at the local government level.
The group stressed that there is evidence of needs prioritized by community stakeholders are now informing the LGAs annual budgets
The Communique added that budget town-hall meetings are held annually, audited reports for LGAs are consistently made public and the establishment of the co-created Local Government Accountability Mechanism in the 23 LGAs is a welcome development.
However, observed challenges, such as some of the chairmen being hesitant to buy into the reforms and many of the Local Government Councils do not align their annual budgets with the LGDP.
The group said mutual suspicion exist between CDC Champions and some council members, nonchalant attitude of residents towards governance and the delay in cash-backing of the LFTAS performance grant.
Other challenges as stated in the Communique includes: “The CDC was acknowledged to be the most successful so far among the reforms as on average over the past three years it has informed the annual budget of the 23 LGAs by 50%, as seen with the 54% influence in the 2022 draft budgets. However, actual performance has remained poor with an average of 30% across the 23 LGAs, with a 33% performance for the 2021 half-year.
“Despite concerted efforts to increase public awareness on the CDC process, there is still widespread low public consciousness and understanding of the CDC process in the various local governments ”
Meanwhile, the Communique recommended that the State Government through the Joint Account Allocation Committee (JAAC) and Economic Planning Board should develop a comprehensive framework that will ensure local government councils get the statutory 10% and IGR reconciliation is done timely and as appropriate.
“The State Government through the Ministry of Finance should accelerate the cash-backing for the 2018 LFTAS performance grants to the 23 LGAs. The funds should go into purchasing working tools (laptops) for key officials and low-cost CDC projects.
The Planning & Budget Commission should endeavor to carry out the 2019/2020 LFTAS performance assessment; and importantly, review the criteria and indicators to reflect current realities. As this will sustain the motivation behind the program and add to the local government revenue no matter how small”.
The State Government should liaise with the Local Government Councils to leverage on the State capital budgets of the Ministry for Local Government Affairs, Kaduna Roads Agency (KADRA), Community & Social Development Agency (CSDA), Rural Water Supply & Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) among others to integrate and implement some CDC prioritized projects due to the fiscal constraints being faced by the LGAs.
In the spirit of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), it is being proposed that a state-level technical working group, made up of an equal number of relevant state and non-state actors, should be constituted to support the strengthening of the local government accountability mechanism.
The Local Government Councils should be sensitized and encouraged, in line with the Local Government Reform Law and LGDP, to take ownership of the CDC process as the major channel for identifying community prioritized needs into the annual budget.